10 Things That Will Kill Your Church's Orphan Ministry: #10 Prayerlessness

This is the 10th and final post in this series entitled “10 Things That Will Kill Your Church’s Orphan Ministry.” This series is born out of several years of consulting with and observing many churches across America develop orphan care ministries. Over time, I have noticed some common mistakes that cause these ministries to struggle and even fail. Over the next few weeks, I want to share those observations with you in an effort to help and to stir a discussion about the good things being done to minister well in orphan care.

So, one final thing that will kill your orphan ministry is:


The world’s orphan crisis is epic. According to UNICEF’s estimates there are approximately 153 million orphans around the globe, but the number really fails to represent the crisis accurately. This number represents children who have lost 1 parent to death, but it does not account for the scores of children abandoned by living parents, those living on the streets, those enslaved and trafficked, and those in countries (particularly Islamic) who fail to report orphan statistics. In truth, the UNICEF number is a statistic that is meant to underscore the vulnerability of children to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic not to account for what we would consider orphaned children. A really good statistic doesn’t exist to estimate the number of orphans worldwide, but we can be assured that there are scores of them and they need our help desperately. 

God has given the responsibility of orphan care to His people in order to display His character and His salvation to the nations, but we have to acknowledge that the task is beyond us. We need something more than the resources at our disposal to address the problem. 

Unfortunately, too many churches make the mistake of focusing too intently on the tangible over the intangible. Instead of taking sufficient time to pray, they are drawn into the easy trap of working hard at solving problems for orphans without seeking God’s power, direction, and provision. We can’t afford not to take time to pray.

Prioritizing prayer seems oxymoronic to many, but it makes perfect sense. In elevating prayer, we acknowledge our helplessness and utter dependence upon God. Prayer is something tangible. It is communion with the Most High God. It is the most important work. 

Being prayerless in orphan care is like "taking a knife to a gunfight." It is a powerless, losing proposition. It aims too low. We will find ourselves meeting mere temporal needs with no lasting significance and no gospel impact if we fail to pray for God's direction and provision constantly. 

  • How do you pray for orphans?
  • How has God answered your prayers with direction and provision in orphan care?
  • What do you need to be praying for right now?

I would love to hear how you respond to these questions. Share your answers with us here.


Rick Morton

Father to three transnationally adopted children, Rick Morton’s dedication to orphans extends beyond his family. Coauthor of Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care, Rick and his wife are cofounders of international orphan-hosting ministry Promise 139, based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An inspiring speaker, Rick shares God’s heart for the fatherless at many conferences for pastors as well as orphan-care conferences. He and his family live in the Greater Memphis area.